Sunday, March 17, 2013

Week 2 (iPad Mini) Post-mortem: What a difference an app store makes


I think the title says it all – where the experience with the Samsung Galaxy Tab last week was bit disappointing because of the apps, the iPad mini was quite the opposite. Having said that, I have invested quite a bit of cash on the iOS app store so I have a big selection of apps ready to use when I fired it up. But the reason why I'm more likely to buy things from the iOS app store is because I have more confidence that apps (when sold as tablet compatible) actually look right on said tablet, vs phone apps stretched out to fill the screen (not all apps, but enough of them for me to notice).

Ignoring the iPad mini's hardware for the moment, I believe that if android had the breadth and the quantity of tablet apps that are currently in the iOS app store, that the iPad wouldn't be so dominant. Speaking from personal experience, if my Asus Transformer TF300 had the apps I have on iOS AND those have been designed to work on the larger screen as they do on iOS, that I could easily ditch my iPad and go Android. Android tablets excite me because of the diversity of their form factors, but the software support for tablets just isn't to the standard of iOS.

So what things did I use my iPad mini for? Well since I only have the base model (16Gb WiFi), it got the most use when I was at home and had access to the internet. I did bring it to work each day, but since the only offline things I could do with the mini was play games, it pretty much just sat there. I have tethered it to my phone a couple of times, but when I just need to look up something quickly, like check my twitter and email notifications, it was just easier to do all that on the phone.

But once home, I was completely happy having it as my primary computer – paying bills, web surfing, reviewing/responding to emails, communicating on twitter, reading comics and playing games, the mini was flawless, fast and most importantly, wireless. The only time I would have to charge the mini was when I went to bed if I played games on it for too long; otherwise, it only gets charged once while at work.

Navigating the iPad mini was a pleasure – a benefit of new hardware optimised to run the OS – and I'd  daresay it was even a touch faster than my iPad 3 with retina, especially when registering taps on the screen. And even though I use an iPhone 4s as my phone, switching between that and the iPad mini didn't make me aware that the latter didn't have a retina display, though that's partially helped by my deteriorating eyesight I'm sure. Finally, the benefit of the reduced width of the mini vs the regular sized iPad, is that thumb-typing doesn't require splitting the keyboard, which is great since I then won't have to merge it again when I want to type something out in landscape mode (which is faster because I can use more fingers).

In conclusion, I came off quite impressed by the iPad mini – it might be diminutive in size, but not in performance or longevity. Apps, comics and websites (99% of what I would use a computer for) all work great on it...the only thing I would do next time around is cough up the extra dough for the 4G/cellular version...and even though I didn't miss it, I would get a retina version if Apple came around to making one :) “Fanboi” you say? I am, yes. But how could I not be, when the experience I've had so far has been so good.

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